Making Connections Across Indicators to Improve Post-School Outcomes:


Early State Efforts

  • Additional Resources
  • References
  • II. Making Connections Across Indicators to Understand Trends

    D. Making Connections Between Transition Planning and Post-School Outcomes

    The best way to understand post-school outcomes and the implications for policy and practice is to explore the relationship between students' IEP goals and what happens to students after they leave school (WA). Programmatic factors, such as classes taken, paid or unpaid employment, or community-based experiences, help to describe transition programs and services and point to areas where states and LEAs can intervene to improve student outcomes (AL).

    Section Contents

    This section helps states analyze these connections by providing:

    • Guiding questions on analysis of transition planning and post-school outcomes
    • Examples of data displays used in New York (NY) and Wisconsin (WI) to analyze these trends
    • Ways that findings have impacted local/state policy and practice in New York (NY), Wisconsin (WI), Washington (WA), and Texas (TX)

    1The following staff provided graphics and other content included in this section: Doris Jamison, Joanne LaCrosse, Wendy Latimer, and Cynthia Wilson with the New York State Department of Education (NY); and Mary Kampa, Linda Maiterjean, and Lynese Gulczynski with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (WI). Graphics included are derived from actual state data or, if state data were not available, prototypes were developed for the purposes of this guide. The following staff from other contacted states also made contributions to this section, as noted in parenthesis after relevant text by state abbreviation: Karen Rabren and George Hall at Auburn University in Alabama (AL); Debby Norris and Carla Johnson with the Texas Department of Education (TX); and Cinda Johnson and Lisa Scheib at Seattle University in Washington State (WA)

    Guiding Questions for Analysis of the Impact of Transition Planning on Outcomes
    To assist with analysis of the relationships between data collected for Indicators 13 and 14, states can use the following guiding questions as a framework.
    What are the most likely outcomes for students with an IEP that met requirements and for those that did not meet requirements? Which group of students was
    • More likely to graduate?
    • Lesslikely to drop out?
    • More likely to have a certain type of diploma or certificate? With what types of diplomas or certificates?
    • More likely to be employed?
    • More likely to attend postsecondary education or training?
    Are the school leavers (exiters) completing surveys representative of the total population of students in the class under study? In terms of disability categories, race/ethnicity, and gender?
    Are there particular IEP requirements that are more related to successful outcomes than others?
    Are demographic and exiting groups with the most successful outcomes most likely to have IEPs that meet requirements?
    Are identified differences consistent over time? (Bost et al., 2007) Or across all LEAs?
    Overall, what are the major trends between students with IEPs that met the requirements and post-school outcomes and between students with IEPs that did not meet requirements?

    Important Reminder About Data Quality

    Unless data is based on a representative sample, collected through a rigorous research design, and analyzed using appropriate statistics, only tentative conclusions can be drawn. In the absence of these, however, information gathered can, when included with data from other sources, serve as a starting point for developing improvement plans and activities.

    Examples of State Analyses of the Impact of Transition Planning on Post-School Outcomes

    Contacted states have explored the relationship between IEP goals and transition planning and post-school outcomes in a number of ways, two of which are described here. One explores the helpfulness of transition services and planning in reaching post-school outcomes. The other explores the relationship between IEP goals and post-school activities. Examples include visual displays from Wisconsin and New York (Figures 1-3) and descriptions of ways that results of these types of analyses have impacted policy and practice in four of the contacted states.

    Analysis of Transition Planning and Post-School Outcomes

    In a longitudinal study in New York of two class cohorts, links between transition planning and post-school outcomes were explored. Former students were asked if they received transition planning and if what they received was helpful in making their post-secondary transition. The relationship between helpful planning and successful transitions was explored and the outcomes for the Class of 2000 are outlined below in Figure 1.

    Figure 1. New York analysis of indicators 13 and 14: "Transitions by [New York] special education graduates from the class of 2000, one year out of school."

    Figure 1. New York analysis of indicators 13 and 14

    Note:   ”Success” indicates that the individual is involved in learning, working or similar daily activity as opposed to staying home.

    Source: Data are preliminary results from the New York State Department of Education Longitudinal Post School Indicators Study survey of the 2000 Senior Class, one year out, May 2002. Adapted from "High School Preparedness & Post School Outcomes: What Makes a Difference?" PowerPoint presentation, Slide #12, New York State Post School Indicators Study, Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities, New York State Education Department, May 2006.

    Use of Findings in Policy and Practice

    From their analysis of the data illustrated in Figure 1, staff in New York State found that students from the Class of 2000 who reported receiving helpful transition planning were much more likely to make a successful transition than those who received no or unhelpful planning. To improve outcomes for more students, staff developed a training initiative around transition planning and services and provided regional technical assistance and training to high schools. They also did an analysis of helpfulness of transition planning by school location, which allowed them to identify particular communities to concentrate training efforts (NY).

    Analysis of IEP Goals and Post-School Outcomes

    It is also important to explore the relationship between IEP goals and post-school outcomes to discover if former students are reaching the goals they set. In Wisconsin, this relationship is explored through questions on the state's post-school outcomes survey that ask former students if they are living as planned, in postsecondary education as planned, or working as planned a year after leaving school. Responses of school leavers from the Class of 2006 are compared by exit status in Figure 2.

    Figure 2. Wisconsin analysis of indicators 1, 2, 13, and 14: Reported postsecondary planning results for school leavers by exit status, Wisconsin class of 2006.

    Figure 2. Wisconsin analysis of indicators 1, 2, 13, and 14

    Source: Data are from the Wisconsin Post High School Outcomes Survey for Individuals with Disabilities of 2005-06 school leavers (exiters), surveyed in the spring of 2007, M. Kampa and L. Gulczynski, CESA #11, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2007.

    The connection between IEP goals and post-school outcomes has also been explored in New York State, where seniors' plans after graduation were compared to what they were actually doing one year later. These data were collected for longitudinal studies of two class cohorts. Since information on plans and post-school outcomes was collected for both students with disabilities and general education in these studies, comparisons between these groups is possible. As shown in Figure 3, general education graduates in the Class of 2001 were more likely to achieve their post-school outcome goals than students with disabilities.

    Figure 3. New York analysis of indicators 13 and 14: "[New York] class of 2001, senior plans vs. outcomes one year beyond high school."

    Figure 3. New York analysis of indicators 13 and 14

    Source: Data are from the New York State Department of Education Longitudinal Post School Indicators Study survey of the 2001 Senior Class, one year out. Adapted from "High School Preparedness & Post School Outcomes: What Makes a Difference?" PowerPoint presentation, Slide #5, New York State Post School Indicators Study, Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities, New York State Education Department, May 2006.

    Use of Findings in Policy and Practice

    • When 63% of those surveyed from the Class of 2005 in Wisconsin reported being employed as planned in high school and only 49% reported attending postsecondary school as planned (Wisconsin Post High School Outcomes Survey, 2006), findings from Indicator 13 were used to provide clues to improvements that schools and LEAs could make to increase the chances that students would achieve their goals (WI).
    • Similar to findings in New York, staff at the Center for Change in Transition Services at Seattle University found over a 3-year period that, although around 65% of graduates identified postsecondary school as their goal, less than 45% were attending any postsecondary school after one year past graduation (Johnson et. al., 2005). There were any number of reasons that this might be occurring, including "a lack of preparation for postsecondary education including academic skills, knowledge of disabilities and needed accommodations as well as late planning and inadequate documentation" (Johnson et. al., 2005, p. 27). To assess why this is happening in any specific LEA or school, the researchers recommended that local staff:
      1. determine whether the goal is realistic and supported by assessment data;
      2. assure that students are successfully taking academic preparation courses for college entrance; and
      3. support these students in the college application process to assure necessary accommodations and successful transition" (Johnson et al., 2005, p. 12).
      The review of IEP elements required for Indicator 13 provides an opportunity to make these types of assessments.
    • District personnel receiving data collection mini-grants in Texas also examine the relationship between a student's IEP goals and post-school outcomes. Personnel review the information about a student's IEP goals from their exit survey, compare these to post-school outcomes reported on the follow-up survey, and note discrepancies. They then go back to the classroom to see where improvements need to be made in programs and services to make sure students achieve those goals (TX).

    III. Available Resources

    IV. References